Gel cushions are a popular wheelchair cushion option, thanks to their excellent pressure distribution properties. These cushions can help to increase comfort, provide postural support, and reduce physical issues such as skin shearing and the development of pressure sores.
Gel provides a unique semi-liquid layer. Engineered gel is usually put into a pouch, which is then attached to a foam cushion base. The wheelchair user can sink into the gel layer, which helps to distribute their pressure across the entire seat area, rather than concentrating pressure in a single area, as tends to happen with foam cushions.
Gel cushions often feature sculpting or shaping to provide specific support to atrophied legs or otherwise weakened muscles. Support can be from side-to-side or front-to back. Various levels of support are often available, depending on your particular needs, and some gel cushions come with inserts that you can use to further customize the fit.
While gel cushions provide excellent comfort, they do provide relatively little shock absorption when compared with other types of wheelchair cushions. Because the gel is already compressed, it has nowhere to further compress and spring back as you travel over large bumps. Gel seat cushions are also usually heavier than other types of cushions.
Know What You Need
Carefully consider which type gel cushion is right for you. Do you need support to keep your legs properly aligned? Will the weight of a gel cushion have a significant impact on your ability to propel your wheelchair? Talk with your doctor about what type of cushion may be best for you before you start looking at gel cushions.
Gel cushions which are designed with one large gel section can allow the gel to get pushed to the sides during the course of the day. If you have such a cushion, then be sure to knead the gel back into the center before each use. Buying a cushion which features a cellular design can help to avoid this issue.